Sunday, 19 February 2017

Tips for Student Teachers - Getting the Most Out of Your Degree

You may be at the start of your degree thinking about how much content there is and how you'll ever learn it all, or perhaps that you have so much time to go that you don't need to take it all in yet. But I can assure you it will go by in a flash and soon enough you will be standing in front of 30 pairs of eyes, wishing you had paid more attention! Here are my top tips for making the most of your teaching degree (in no particular order).

1. Prepare for everything. When I was at uni we had to do a physical education class. Not being the sporty types, my friends and I didn't take the class too seriously, not ever planning to teach sport. Fast forward a few years and one of my friends is now a sports teacher because it was the only position available. Lesson: Just because you don't plan to teach something, doesn't mean you won't teach it.

2. Pay extra attention to your least favourite subjects. What was the subject you didn't like at school? Now learn that! Science was always my weakness, purely because I didn't find it interesting. Consequently I now have a fairly poor knowledge of science, which has proven challenging as a teacher. In hindsight I wish I had taken more science classes as my electives, to make teaching science less daunting.

3. Take note of all the children's literature that is recommended to you. I had a list of books mentioned at the back of each of my notebooks. Reading to your students is a great way of introducing a topic to students, fostering a love of reading and filling the ten minutes before the bell. You want to have a list of amazing children's literature that you can bring out when you are looking for something to read to your students, a quality book will be more enjoyable for you to read and for the students to listen to.

4. Make friends. Networking is a valuable thing to do at uni because 1) you never know who is going to become a principal and give you a fantastic job and 2) it is great to have a support network to share ideas and resources with when you are teaching. You will never know everything, so being friends with other teachers can be so helpful. Having an issue with a particular student? Another teacher has most likely had a similar situation and can either lend a sympathetic ear or can offer some advice on what worked for them.

5. Buy the textbooks. Being a teacher means being a lifelong learner, so you will find yourself referring back to your old textbooks time and time again! I also found that just because one textbook was assigned to one class didn't mean it wasn't useful and applicable to other classes. By the end of my degree I had a bank of great textbooks to reference when writing my assignments.

6. Build a resource file. This will be so useful, particularly in your first year of teaching! I have a full post on this coming up.

7. Watch how your teachers teach. Several times in my degree I sat in a lecture being told not to lecture. Why? Think about it while you are in class, are you paying attention? What does that say about what sort of learner you are? Watch which teachers can engage the whole class and which ones have all their students staring out the window. What are they doing differently?

8. Enjoy it! Teaching is a fabulous career and can be great fun to study so enjoy your degree, soak it up.

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